I remember doing being hysterical as a child when getting my hair washed. I think I got shampoo in my eyes and so in the end tolerated lying in the bath to rinse. I wash DS's hair in the bath twice a week and have a routine of washing first and then playing. I use a cup to wet his hair, baby shampoo and then he lies in the bath with an emergency dry flannel nearby.
He especially loves playing with action figures in the bath as a treat- would this be something your DS would like? He probably has some normal toys that are waterproof.
he's happy to play in the bath, lots of splashing a mucking about, water pistols etc.
as soon as i want to wet his hair he screams. so i just get on with it as quickly as possible. i use a face cloth to rinse his hair, but the screaming doesn't stop til i stop and he gets on with playing.
I share your pain. DD1 is 5 and still does it regardless of method - jug/cup/sponge/showerhead. Yet she'll happily dunk her head underwater inthe swimming pool. I wash her hair once a week as a result as my blood pressure can't take it ! God help us if (when) she gets nits.
Dd2 has always done this, she is 4.5, has huge amounts of fine curly hair, which dreads, and is basically a nit-magnet, it is impossible to wash it with a flannel and every method we have ever tried ends with her screaming like a banshee, then shivering and sobbing whilst wrapped in a towel, whilst the whole household (and the street, probably) try to recover from the trauma.
Things that have worked (a bit, sometimes) for us are:
(1) give him some control, so eg say that you'll only pour the water on once he says 'ready', or make the 'ready' some kind of fun signal. For some reason, the idea of fun signal in our house is when the flannel is slapped on the side of the bath...
(2) DC's do each others' head wetting and rinsing, using an unfeasably enormous jug. I think this is a bit of fun and just breaks the pattern of mum-does-this-so-I-yell
Should say - we are the family that had the neighbours knocking on the door at one holiday let, demanding to have sight of the child as they thought he was being beaten up / abused. No, he was having his hair washed.
DS is 7 in October, only in the last month has hair washing become less of an ordeal. The answer to our problems was to buy a good quality, and therefore well fitting, pair of swimming goggles specifically to use for hair washing purposes. He would throw himself around in the bath, splash all over, swim in the bath - then come hair washing time he would be all tears, screams and protests!
Why don't you stop washing it? Getting wet in bath/shower should be fine. My boys are older (all with very different types of hair) and have never regularly washed their hair, maybe 2/3 times a year with shampoo. No cradle cap, no nits, doesn't smell .. . .
Do you use one of those special shower caps or visors? It could be the sensation of water over the face or in the ears that he has problems with.
Maybe also give him a mirror so he can see what's going on. Some people do have very sensitive scalps and hate being touched on the head. But if he got some visual clues as to what's going on, he might feel more comfortable about it.
Or perhaps separate the hair-washing from bathtime and try to tackle this issue at another time in the day when he's less tired. If you have enough room on your kitchen worktop, maybe you could try washing his hair in the kitchen sink by lying him down on his back, with his neck supported on a rolled-up towel, much like a back-wash at the hairdressers, but also with a mirror so he can see what's going on.
We have tried mirror, and goggles and visor (all varieties) and special jug, however calmly we explain that she needs to put her head back, when it comes to the moment of water on the hair (it's not necessarily the shampoo she objects to, just getting her hair in any way wet!), she flails around so much that it does go on her face and in her eyes, and then it is an everloving nightmare!
We've had a breakthrough. DS will very happily lie back in the water with just his face showing. By dousing him in shampoo first and swishing his hair about when he's laid out, we've been able to do tear free hairwashings two nights running now. He's even been happy to rinse any leftover suds off under the shower. Hallelujah!
I too was scarred by shampoo in the eyes as a child... although I don't know if the screaming and wriggling came before or after the shampooing of the eyeballs! In fact i hated washing my own hair too, when i got old enough. Still got shampoo everywhere. When I was about 11 we finally got a shower and my dreams came true, i found a way to rinse it out without blinding myself!!
I think at one point my mum actually did stop washing my hair until I complained that it was greasy because I made such a fuss about getting it washed. (PS my mother didn't believe in buying nice no-more-tears shampoo I got whatever she got.... now i have a kid when we get through the gift-box johnsons' he (and mummy!) are on watermelon no-more-tears for life!)